Stamping out illegal trade

Following the second meeting in 10 days to discuss the issues of illegal import of clothes and the threats to the already dwindling Greek textile industry, the government yesterday agreed with trade representatives to step up customs checks and try to restore healthy competition in the retail market. «With these initiatives and those that will follow, we are clearly showing that the state is present and alert,» said Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas, adding that the whole matter was a «national mission.» Sioufas headed the meeting between government officials, including Deputy Economy and Finance Minister Adam Regouzas and representatives from Greece’s textile industry, in the wake of the lifting of restrictions on textile imports into the EU from January 1 this year. Greek textile manufacturers warned in December that the change could lead to as many as 10,000 workers losing their jobs if cheaper products, particularly from China, flood the market. The government yesterday committed to redesigning its industrial policy for the sectors they feel are most under threat and to putting a much greater emphasis on the use of technology. All parties reaffirmed their commitment to a proposal made at the December 27 meeting to take part in the formation of a task force to examine matters specifically related to the textile and clothing industry. The group will be made up of officials from various government departments and representatives of the textile trade. Another area of concern for Greek clothing manufacturers is the influx of illegal goods into the country which are then sold on by street traders or small stores. As far as this is concerned, it was agreed that there would be an increase in checks at customs houses and on street traders to combat any illegal trade. It is thought that this process will also place stiffer checks on legally imported goods in a bid to ensure inferior products are not allowed to enter the market.